“I want people to mistake me for a native speaker because I speak fluently without searching for words, I never make grammatical mistakes and I have no accent.”
…then you’re like me. Or rather, how I used to be before I realized how unattainable, (and silly) it was as a goal.
In truth, nobody really meets those requirements, even in their own native language.Think about it…
I’ve personally heard people say:
People say things like:
And we’ve all been at a loss for words at one point or another:
Why is that?
The second resolution is much stronger because it it is specific and gives you a clear action plan— the steps needed to achieve it are included in it. “Get in spectacular shape” sounds great, but what do I need to achieve it? How do I even define “spectacular shape” really? What seems ambitious and inspiring at first can quickly turn into something discouraging… and the same is true for your language goals.
Again, start with WHAT you want to communicate, and that will help you determine HOW to go about it…
For example, one possible goal is:
I would like to be able to order food in a restaurant.
This goal sets up some clear and obvious skills right from the get-go: You’ll need to learn food and restaurant related vocabulary like:
as well as some specific grammatical constructions:
It also points you in the direction of food and restaurant related content: maybe you could visit the website of an Italian restaurant in Italy or you could look for videos that take place in restaurants.
A little research and you would find that Italian uses the passato prossimo to talk about events in the recent past. So your action step could be: I’m going to read and study the passato prossimo and then I’m going to make a point to use this verb tense in my next online conversation class.
So, think about what you would like to communicate. You can still have your ultimate goal be: “communicate with a broad range of people in a variety of situations” but make sure that you break that goal down into manageable bits— think of possible scenarios or possible ideas you would like to communicate and then do the research to determine what you’d need to know in those circumstances.
Further on in this series, I’ll be providing some possible study plans that can aid you in determining what you might want to know and what you’d need to get there but it’s important that you determine what matters most to you. So if I suggest working on your writing skills by learning how to compose a formal business letter, but you care more about casual interactions with friends, then by all means, skip it! You’re more likely to learn and retain the things that matter to you most anyway, so figure out what YOU want to communicate, and then focus on that!
Not only does it create a nice sense of support and community when we all share, but it helps me provide the most useful content!